Lighthouse of Genoa: History, Legends and How to Get There

The Ligurian capital is a real treasure chest full of treasures of all kinds, but the Lighthouse will remain its symbol par excellence over the centuries.

If you are curious to see it more closely, all you have to do is go to Genoa. Before setting off, however, read this short guide because I am about to tell you about the history of this impressive structure, as well as how the captivating legends of the Lighthouse came to be.

In the second part, I would like to give you some advice so that you can choose in advance how to move according to your needs (on foot, by car or by train).

Genoa, as you well know, is not only synonymous with caruggi, history, art and breathtaking landscapes: the Superba, as Francesco Petrarca defines it, boasts an important gastronomic tradition and this can be the right opportunity to taste some of its delicacies in a very special place.

If the city will breach your heart (as I hope), you can always decide to extend your stay and in this case, you may find useful some information on hotels and bed & breakfasts (Lighthouse area).

Are you ready for this? The Superba is waiting for you!

 

The history of the Genoese Lighthouse

The Lighthouse of Genoa, symbol par excellence of the city, lies on the promontory of Capo di Faro and has been protecting the Ligurian capital since long before 1200.

The current construction dates back to 1543, but in the early years of the twelfth century there is already a very similar structure that was used as a watchtower (to signal the arrival of suspicious ships) and lighthouse (on top of it, bundles were burned to indicate the entry of the port to sailors).

lighthouse of genoa italy
Lighthouse of Genoa – Photo by UNITRE

The first olive oil lamp, dating back to 1326, goes down in history for the skill of Ligurian and Venetian glassmakers who, due to their immense talent, were able to produce transparent crystals, thus giving rise to an extremely concentrated beam of light.
In 1340, on the lower part of the tower, the coat of arms of the city (red cross on a white background) was also painted.

The tower changed its use over the years and became (in 1400) a real prison ready to welcome Giacomo Lusignano (uncle of the king of Cyprus), his wife and a large part of the court.

The Genoese Lighthouse was visited at the same time by the famous Leonardo Da Vinci who went there, together with Ludovico il Moro, to study the layout of the Genoese fortifications.

lighthouse of genoa
Lighthouse of Genoa – Photo by UNITRE

A century later, at the behest of Luigi XII, the so-called fortress of Briglia was built: however, the Genoese rose up against the French and bombed the structure, damaging, during the offensive, the Lighthouse, which thus became a real half tower.

The entire work, which was rebuilt in 1543, went through several attacks in the following years (bombing by the Sun King, fighting in 1746, raids dating back to World War II).

In the following years, moreover, some considerable improvements were made (all compatible with the time): in 1778 a lightning rod system was installed, while in 1791 the base of the tower was consolidated in order to give it greater stability.

Finally, the power of the headlamp was significantly increased by the advent of new optical systems and the introduction of other fuels (acetylene gas, pressurized oil and electrification).

 

Legends about the Lighthouse of Genoa

The Lighthouse of Genoa is synonymous with history, but also with a mysterious legend.

The latter depicts how the tower builder (his name is unknown) was thrown into the sea from its top by the Genoese and the reasons for the crazy gesture seem to be essentially two.

The first, of a more romantic nature, can be summed up as follows: the inhabitants of the city, struck by the aesthetic and strategic perfection of the tower, decided to eliminate the architect to prevent him from proposing a similar work elsewhere, while the rawer version speaks of a murder linked to economic reasons (the Genoese, in a few simple words, did not want to pay the bill).

 

Visit the Lighthouse

The fortifications of the Lighthouse of Genoa, the lighthouse, the wonderful promenade and the park are open to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and on public holidays from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. (the last admission is at 6 p.m.); there are also some extraordinary openings on 25th April, 1st May and 18th May on the occasion of Museum Night (the last admission is at 9.30 p.m.).

lanterna genoa
Museum of the Lighthouse – Photo by UNITRE

The attraction is, instead, closed on Christmas, New Year’s Day and Easter. Before setting off, I advise you find out about the weather conditions in Genoa: visits to the Lighthouse are, in fact, interrupted in the event of a thunderstorm alert.

You can buy your ticket online in advance (allowing you to avoid long and exhausting queues) or directly on site at the museum ticket office.

The full ticket (cost of 6 euros) allows you to enter the museum, park and Lighthouse (first panoramic terrace), while you can take advantage of a reduction in price in case of purchases at one of the many shops located within the gallery of the Ferry Terminal (in this case the ticket costs 5 euros, but you must remember to show the ticket at the ticket office).

Children between 0 and 6 years of age and disabled persons with accompanying persons can enter free of charge.

Before visiting the Lighthouse of Genoa, there are certain things that you should know (so read what I’m about to tell you very carefully).

  1. Wear suitable footwear (no sandals, but especially not flip-flops).
  2. Do not take any animals of any type or size with you (access is prohibited for safety reasons).
  3. Remember that the road to the Lighthouse includes 172 steps and for this reason you must be in good health (no walking impediments or heart disease).
  4. No more than 25 people can access the Lighthouse at any given time.
  5. The visits are suspended in case of adverse weather conditions (therefore, check in advance if weather alerts have been issued).
  6. All children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  7. Choose, where possible, to visit this structure on days that aren’t particularly cold (especially if you are travelling with children) as the entire area is extremely ventilated.

After having commented on these practical aspects in depth, which are certainly boring, there is nothing left for me to do but give you a few small previews of what awaits you.

Once you arrive at the base of the Lighthouse, you can access the lighthouse which is currently in operation and is managed by the lighthouse service of the Italian Navy.

At the base of the tower there is an elevator, but wait to sing victory because it’s not for you.

In fact, the famous 172 steps I mentioned earlier await you.

I can assure you, however, that the effort made is rewarded by the breathtaking view that awaits you once you arrive at your destination.

The view of the Superb, the wind in your hair and the sound of seagulls make the Lighthouse one of the most evocative places in the city.

 

Curiosities about the Lighthouse of Genoa

Before I give you some information on how to get to the Lighthouse and where to stay / eat, I want to reveal some curiosities that are truly what makes this place so fascinating.

  • The Lighthouse has been in operation for more than 8 centuries and is currently the official lighthouse of the Port of Genoa.
  • It was the most important lighthouse in Italy and was the only one to be managed by a pharaoh.
  • It is used as an airport lighthouse (it is the only one still operating in our beautiful country) and regulates, as such, all air and sea traffic.
  • Its light is visible up to 50 km away.
  • The tower of the Lighthouse of Genoa reaches a height of 76 meters (it is the highest lighthouse in the Mediterranean), while the same touches peaks of 117 meters from the rock on which it rests.
  • It is the third oldest lighthouse in the world among those that are still in operation today.
  • The Lighthouse is a square-based tower and is entirely made of natural stone. The summit is reached by an internal staircase consisting of 365 steps, but only the first 172 are accessible to the public (the summit is not, in fact, open for visitors because it is under military control).
  • The Multimedia Museum, located under the tower, is housed in Savoia fortifications dating back to 1830. The riflemen’s rooms are equipped with large screens and films dedicated to the maritime world and lighthouses are projected on them. Moreover, there are images of Genoa with its famous “caruggi” (the alleys of the old town) and some references to the Ligurian gastronomic tradition made of pasta with pesto, fish dishes and many more.

For more information, you can still visit the official Wikipedia page of the Lighthouse of Genoa.

Finally, the Lighthouse of Genoa organizes events of various kinds (special openings on the occasion of August 15th), exhibitions of different types and workshops for schools
and families (especially during the autumn months); I recommend, therefore, that you take a look at all this because these events are always very interesting and engaging.

 

How to get to the Genoese Lighthouse

I would like to give you some useful suggestions now so that you can easily reach what is considered the real symbol of Genoa; know right now that you can move on foot, by car and by train.

 

Reaching the Lighthouse on foot

The Lighthouse of Genoa can be reached only and exclusively on foot along what is called the ‘walk of the Lighthouse‘.

The route you have to follow is about 800 meters long and starts from Via Milano in the Ferry Terminal area (you can’t go wrong because the walk is marked with a large red sign).

 

By car

The city of Genoa is easily accessible by car along the main highways.

  • Motorway A7: this is the road to follow if you arrive from Milan; exit at Genova Ovest and follow the signs for the Ferry Terminal.
  • Motorway A12: this is the road to follow if you come from the East; in this case you can exit at Genova Nervi or Genova Est. Then move in the direction of the Ferry Terminal.
  • Highway A10: you have to take this direction if you come from the West, but remember to exit at Genoa Airport and continue along the city road (carefully follow the signs to the city center and the ferry terminal).

 

Where to park near the Lighthouse

When you get to your destination, leave your car in the Di Negro shopping mall car park (all you have to do to use the free car park is have a coffee in one of the shopping mall bars) and continue on foot.

When you arrive at the beginning of the walk, buy your ticket (remember to present your receipt so that you can enjoy free parking for 2 hours) and start your climb.

 

By train

If you want to avoid long and exhausting traffic jams (the Genoa motorway junction is very often congested), you can opt for a comfortable and relaxing journey by train (all connections with the main cities are, in fact, guaranteed).

The Ligurian capital boasts several railway stations, but the most important are Brignole and Principe; in the squares in front of it you will also find several bus stops and so you can reach the Lighthouse in the blink of an eye.

If you’ve gotten off at Brignole and you’re not in a hurry, you can also take a stroll through the many shops on Via XX Settembre and then take the subway to Piazza De Ferrari (not before, however, having a look at the Palazzo Ducale and the Carlo Felice Theatre) and get off at the Dinegro stop.

Continue in the direction of the Ferry Terminal and follow the signs.

 

Where to sleep near the Lighthouse

Genoa has many accommodation facilities and these were made for all budgets. There are hotels with more or less stars, guest houses and bed & breakfasts.

The choice is really diverse, but not all rooms have a romantic view of the city’s lighthouse.

 

B&B Al Centro di Genova

It is a bed and breakfast, located in the historic center (200 meters from the Aquarium of Genoa) and makes it very convenient to reach the Lighthouse thanks to the subway station located a minute’s walk away.

The price includes free private parking, free wifi and two double bedrooms with private bathrooms.

 

Columbus Sea Hotel

This property enjoys a very strategic position; it is located, in fact, near the bus stop and is only 10 minutes (walking) from the metro station of Dinegro.

The hotel offers you a buffet breakfast, free internet access, private parking for your car and the possibility of bringing for your four-legged friend (dog or cat) along.

The rooms are also equipped with every kind of comfort (satellite television, air conditioning, private bathroom, minibar and safe).

 

Holiday Inn

The hotel is located in the nearby Via Milano and the offer is really very attractive because there is free internet access, private parking for your car, access for disabled people, a free restaurant for children under 12 years and much more.

The restaurant also offers traditional Ligurian dishes such as pasta with pesto and rabbit Ligurian style.

 

Hotels Bellevue

The hotel, located in Salita della Provvidenza I, is located in the heart of the Ligurian capital and is just under 1 km from the ferry terminal.

The structure offers its guests free wi-fi, newspapers and rooms equipped with every kind of comfort.

The hotel also has a large terrace on the top floor and I can assure you that the view of the Lighthouse, perhaps at sunset, is really breathtaking.

 

Bed and breakfast

There are also several bed & breakfasts and many of them are located near the Lighthouse; the offer is really wide and you just have to choose the one that best suits your logistical and economic needs.

 

Where to eat near the Lighthouse of Genoa

Genoa is a charming city and its attractions attract, day after day, tourists from all over the world.

So take your time to visit the Lighthouse, but don’t leave the Ligurian capital without having tasted the traditional dishes.

Personally, I’d suggest that you go to the Osteria Marinara A Lanterna da Don Gallo, but if time is short , you can always opt for a quick meal in one of the many refreshment points that there are inside the shopping mall of the Ferry Terminal.

 

L’Osteria Marinara A Lanterna da Don Gallo

The tavern, located in Via Milano 134 R, has a very impressive history: it represents, in fact, a real bet of Don Andrea Gallo who decided to found the place, in an area not quite safe, to give a new future to all the boys who have had a history of drug abuse.

The restaurant, which belongs to the Community of San Benedetto al Porto, is entirely run by former drug addicts and the result is really surprising (the place is so successful that you should book a table well in advance).

The tavern has also been collaborating for years with the consortium ‘Pescatori della Liguria’ which promotes local fish products and the seasonality of the catch.

The dishes proposed are true masterpieces (from appetizers to mixed fried food) and each of them is made with fresh fish of high quality.

 

Conclusion

Well, we arrived at the end of this article on the Lighthouse of Genoa, where I told you about its history and its legends, useful information on how to get there by car or train, where to park, where to sleep and eat nearby.

Do you have any advice? Any questions or concerns?

Leave a comment below or read my articles on the main attractions of Genoa, including the Aquarium, the Doge’s Palace and the Royal Palace.

Take care,
Andrea

 

Andrea Semonella
Hey! I'm Andrea and I am a little bit obsessed with exploring the world and meeting people on the road. I'm in love with my city, and I'm happy to share with you all the best place and most incredible secrets of Genoa, Italy.

Related

Categories